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Undergraduate teaching assistantships: exploring career readiness and relationality among Emirati students

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Purpose

The purpose of this study was to pilot an undergraduate teaching assistantship for Emirati students, an area of scholarship underexplored in the Middle East. The teaching assistantship was developed to better prepare students for the workforce, amidst the push for Emiratization.

Design/methodology/approach

Over the course of one semester, four undergraduate teaching assistants documented their experience through reflexive journals that were analysed using a reflexive thematic analysis.

Findings

Undergraduate teaching assistants characterised their experience as providing professional development and learning to connect with student learners. Findings suggest that relationality may be an important factor in student engagement and learning.

Practical implications

Understanding the experience of undergraduate teaching assistants can help develop targeted opportunities to enhance career readiness. Exploring the role of relationality could be important in the training and development of the Emirati workforce and help address some of the gaps in skills. Understanding the way in which undergraduate teaching assistants perceive their teaching experience can also provide faculty with insight into their teaching practices.

Originality/value

This exploratory study shows that students are able to acquire skills that may be applied in a variety of work settings (e.g. balancing multiple responsibilities). However, undergraduate teaching assistants expressed wanting to connect with student learners; this may be more culturally rooted and is less explored within the Emirati context. Given the socio-cultural context of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), female Emiratis may benefit from work-type opportunities, which to the authors’ knowledge has not been explored previously.

Keywords: Emirati students; Professional development; Undergraduate teaching assistantship; United Arab Emirates

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Psychology, Zayed University, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Publication date: April 30, 2021

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